Is Your Diet Bringing You Down?

Everyone knows that what you eat affects the way you look and feel physically but what you might not realize is the effect your diet can have on how you feel mentally and emotionally. A study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Conference in April showed just how closely diet is linked to depression.
Part of the study showed that people whose diets consisted mostly of vegetables, fruit and whole grains and were low in saturated fats and sugar had lower rates of depression. People who followed a more traditional Western diet which is higher in saturated fats and red meats and lacking in vegetables and fruits were more likely to develop depression over time.

A different study published in Nutritional Neuroscience examined the effects eating a Mediterranean-style diet could have on people who are already suffering from depression. Amazingly as these people followed a diet based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish and olive oil, their symptoms of depression were drastically reduced. Yet another showed that as patients with moderate to severe depression replaced processed, refined foods, sweets and fried food with whole, natural, nutrient-rich foods over a 12 week period they experienced significantly fewer symptoms of depression. And, 32% of participants experienced complete remission, meaning that by clinical standards they were no longer depressed.

So, if you recognize symptoms of depression in yourself, it may be worth it to take a closer look at how you’re nourishing your body. Consider these foods that have been shown to give you a natural lift:

  • Healthy carbs from vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. These play a vital role in helping your body make serotonin – a mood heightening hormone.
  • Foods rich in Vitamin E like chickpeas, oats, eggs, seeds and nuts which can  help alleviate both anxiety and depression.
  • Fish, flaxseeds and  nuts are all high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Researchers found people whose bodies were low in Omega 3s were more likely to be depressed.
  • Protein rich foods like eggs, beans, lean beef, fish and poultry all contain high levels of the amino acid, tyrosine. It has been proven to boost your brain’s production of dopamine and norepinephrine, two chemicals that make you feel alert and energetic.
  • Berries, tomatoes, broccoli and citrus fruits all contain antioxidants which can combat the effects of free radicals in your brain.
  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard have been ranked the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. In addition to their powerful anti carcinogen and immunity boosting effects, they are also anti-inflammatory foods that help enhance your mental health too.
  • Drinking lots of water is also known to help alleviate anxiety and depression. Keeping yourself well hydrated helps to ward off dehydration which can often manifest itself in depression-like symptoms.
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